Infant with Keratosis Pilaris on Face

Updated on March 01, 2013
A.H. asks from Rock Island, IL
15 answers

I'm looking for any suggestions or success stories with keratosis pilaris on infant cheeks. Around 6 months old, my son started to get what looked like pimples on his cheeks. I thought that it was due to teething and all of the drool. It was progressively getting worse, so I made an appointment with our pediatrician and he said that it was eczema/dry skin and told us to put vaseline on his cheeks. I wasn't convinced that that's what it was, so I made an appointment with a dermatologist and right away he said KP, which is what I thought it was. He told me to use Amlactin lotion and Cetaphil wash. I started to use it, but thought that it actually made it worse and I wasn't really liking the idea of using something that harsh on my little ones cheeks. Since then, I've been usuing Aveeno Soothing wash and I've tried numerous lotions/oils for his face. I tried the Eucerin lotion, but thought that it actually made it break out more into what looked like very angry big pimples. I then switched to using coconut oil and I didn't notice any improvements with that. I've now been giving him 1 tsp flaxseed oil every day and been using Cerave cream on his face, on it for 5 days now and I haven't noticed much of an improvement. It looks it's best first thing in the morning. I am at my wits end with this! I honestly wouldn't mind the bumps, if I could just get the redness to go away. He also has KP on his upper arms, but those are flesh colored bumps. I'm am up for any comments or suggestions on what may have worked for you. I miss my smooth baby cheeks!!

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So What Happened?

Thank you ladies! I am not breastfeeding. I wanted to, but due to complications after delivery, I didn't get to. My son is now 9 months old, so we've been working on it for about 3 months now. It did start right after we started him on baby food, so for a week I only fed him the same fruit and veggie to see if it was maybe an allergy to something, with no luck. For those of you that have found something that works, does it get worse before it gets better? I do know all about KP. Once we knew that's what he had, I've done plenty of research on it. My hubby has it on his arms. We also run a humidifier 24/7 in our living room (where he spends most of his time) and his room. It's just mind boggling because it looks really good when he wakes up, gets worse throughout the day (angry looking) and then looks better at night.
Well, we went in for our 9 month well baby check up and his pediatrician still thinks that it's eczema/dry skin. He prescribed us a cortizone cream that he says should clear it up. Then when we were leaving he said that what is on his face, could be the KP that is on his arms. My husband asked that if it was the KP, would the prescription take care of it and he said yes, that KP is a form of eczema. He said that if it wasn't any better in a week to call him back. We are on day 3 of the prescription and I haven't seen much improvement.

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answers from New York on

My pediatrician (I'm now 43) had told my mom to break open vitamin e capsules & rub them directly on my skin. That cleared a majority of it up and I did that for quite a while.

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answers from Madison on

Think about diet and if something he's eating could be causing it. Gluten intolerance? Dairy allergy to casein or whey? Another food or dye or artificial flavoring or preservative? Could be anything. Getting tested by a naturopath (Elisa/Alcat test) would tell you what foods/drinks your son's body doesn't like. Eliminating those from his diet might help. I know KP has a genetic component to it, but that could mean that something your son is allergic/intolerant to is something that maybe runs through the family tree. Maybe a whole bunch of family members have food allergies/intolerances and none of them know.

Also just came across this post at a forum for keratosis pilaris, in which a young woman has been searching and researching as to the cause of KP. She is suggesting (through her research) that people with KP have low to no amounts of certain vital vitamins in their bodies, which then causes KP. Very interesting site, worth looking into.

I would stick with anything all natural when putting it on his skin/face. Coconut oil. Jojoba oil. Virgin Olive Oil. Drinking Apple Cider Vinagar with the Mother (when he's older; will change the pH of his body if it's off; that can help). Taking flax seed or chia seed for the Omega-3s (can be put into his baby cereal). I've heard of others opening up a Vit E capsule and putting it directly on the skin. Or give him Vit E through food/liquids. Giving him a good probiotic would also be beneficial; you can buy Florajen or Florajen3 and open the capsule and put it into his food. The probiotic will ensure that he has good bacteria in his gut, not bad. These are all natural ideas, esp the lotions/oils, since you're talking about his cheeks/face.

Regarding the posts on using Selsun Blue. I've heard of that and that some people have had success. However, definitely NOT something you want to use or try until your son is much, much older.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I have recommended Selsun Blue to treat it on arms/legs. I have done it for myself and for my kids. And it does help clear it up.
However, I would be hesitant to put it on a baby's cheeks. Just ...well.. just because, ya know?

But I would also say that maybe you just need to stop all the "treatments" and leave his face alone. How old is he now? I mean... you said it started around 6 months... but how old is he now, how long has this been going on? And how much of that time have you been treating his face?
Facial skin is so much more sensitive than other places on the body...

Did the Derm explain exactly what KP is? Essentially it is pores clogged with keratin. Putting more and more "schtuff" on his skin probably isn't going to help, no matter how soothing it is. Makes me think of applying oil to somebody with acne. Doesn't make sense to me.
oh.. but if you decide later to use it on his arms, be sure to read the label of the product you buy. There is more than one formulation, and you need the original one, that contains (I think it is) Selenium Sulfide. Look at the other bottles on the shelf to see what their active ingredient is (the other brands of dandruff shampoo) and get the Selsun blue that has the unusual ingredient.

A., it may be that he is rubbing it when he is awake. Or drooling and getting it on his face. When he first wakes, perhaps he hasn't been touching it, since he was sleeping. Throughout the day, he may be rubbing his face on things or scratching at it. At night, (bath time?) his face is washed (or maybe just after dinner it gets washed) and he is less active and is drowsy. He may not be touching his face as often then, or he may not be crawling around as much and rubbing his face on other things then. So those things may contribute to it seeming to flare up during the daytime hours.

I had it on my upper arms when I was in my early twenties. I tried loofah's and lotions, etc. Nada. But applying Selsun Blue and letting it sit for a couple of minutes before showering and using a loofah on it, cleared it up in probably 2 weeks. There are tons of web pages that reference using it... I don't know what made me do it (it wasn't websites, b/c this was over 20 years ago). But mine never came back. I think someone mentioned to me that there could be fungal growth causing it (like athlete's foot) and that Selsun Blue could clear it up, so I tried it. It may have been bad information regarding what caused the KP, but the Selsun blue got rid of it. I've read up on it since then.

My son had it from a young age also, on his arms. As he got older (age 12?), he ended up with larger bumps around his elbows, and they would be dry and he would scratch until they bled. When I made him stop scratching enough for them to not be raw, he started applying the Selsun Blue and it really did help. He wasn't as regular about applying it (he seemed to think one application would cure it, even though I told him to do it every shower), but now, at 14, I think it is pretty much gone for him, too. I keep a bottle of it in the kids' bathroom so he can use it as needed if it comes back. My daughter also has it on her upper arms, but she doesn't want to try it. It is there, if she changes her mind.

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answers from Columbia on

Breastfeeding and additional cleaning will not help KP. This tends to run in families, so there is definitely a genetic component.

To educate those who are unfamiliar with this condition:

Keratosis pilaris occurs when the human body produces excess keratin, a natural protein in the skin. The excess keratin, which is cream colored, surrounds and entraps the hair follicles in the pore. This causes the formation of hard plugs (process known as hyperkeratinization).

A. - my daughter, who is 12 now - has had KP since birth also. The redness comes and goes but I agree with Victoria that the more I "tried" to get rid of it, the worse it seemed to get.
I did take her to a dermatologist, who indicated that a glycolic peel would be an option (or dermablast), but I'm not comfortable with such a harsh treatment quite yet.

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answers from Chicago on

You can try Breast milk ( if you are nursing and still are). I know it is good for a lot of things.

Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yup - try breastmilk. Amlactin works only because it has the same acid-y type chemical in it that milk does (it basically gently burns away the top layers of skin). Breastmilk will be best, but you can also try yogurt (plain, obviously) or regular milk. A gentle scrub of milk and baking soda might help, as well.

My daughter has KP on her arms, and I haven't done anything about it because it's just not worth it to me. But if it was on her face, I definitely would be doing anything I could that I didn't think would harm her.


answers from Tulsa on

I've had this since I was a baby. I'm 29 now and the only thing that I've found that works is sunlight/tanning. I tanned in college and it noticeably cleared up my skin. Not all the way, but a huge difference. I don't tan anymore and my skin went back to looking the way it was. The areas on my face have gotten better as I've gotten older, but I still have it on my arms, legs, and butt. Nothing really to do about it.


answers from Asheville on

If you decide to try the suggestion about using breast milk, but have no breast milk available, fresh (unpasturized) goat milk is the closest thing to human milk on the planet. It has to be sold as a "pet product" as it is not pasturized, but my health food store told me who to see for the milk. (My daughter was on goat milk for milk allergy and still prefers it. )



answers from Pittsburgh on

As an infant/toddler my son had it on his arms & thighs.
Our dermatologist told is gnat nothing topical will really help.
I'd stop messing with it, honestly.
It gets better with age.
Good luck!



answers from New York on

My daughter has it and still has it. I can say it has never gone away, it's just not as red. I know as she got older it would itch for her. I took her to the dermatologist and all they said was that it is hereditary and the most important thing it moisturize. We have been through every cream out there and none of them seemed to work either. She didn't like the amalactin cream either. The cereve cream wasn't too bad, not as harsh. All I can say is hang in there and as your son gets older it will get better. The redness will go away. My daughter is 14 now and still has bumps but not redness. Just keep moisturizing and it will help with the itching as well. I wish I could have a more promising answer but I don't think there is one.


My daughter has it and still has it. I can say it has never gone away, it's just not as red. I know as she got older it would itch for her. I took her to the dermatologist and all they said was that it is hereditary and the most important thing it moisturize. We have been through every cream out there and none of them seemed to work either. She didn't like the amalactin cream either. The cereve cream wasn't too bad, not as harsh. All I can say is hang in there and as your son gets older it will get better. The redness will go away. My daughter is 14 now and still has bumps but not redness. Just keep moisturizing and it will help with the itching as well. I wish I could have a more promising answer but I don't think there is one.



answers from Seattle on

Here's my natural remedy:

Bath your baby in a mixture of natural salts: Epsom, Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, Dead Sea, whatever you can find locally.

Brew a pot of chamomile tea and add that to the bath water.

Do not use soap.

Pat dry or air dry.

Find a good body lotion with Shea Butter (like this, but it's not availalbe in the US: Or use straight EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and rub that in gently. Or use A&D ointment overnight.




answers from Dallas on

I have KP, and have had it since I was little. I did have it on my face but as I got older it's just on my upper arms and outer thighs.

I use organic-virgin coconut oil and it really helps.


answers from Chicago on

Honestly, I have yet to find anything that really works, but someone suggested Selsum Blue on the effected area(s).

To be honest, my son had little white bumps on his face too that went away by the time he was 1. If it is KP - there is really no cure all that I have found.



answers from Champaign on

I was advised by my dermatologist to use Amlactin too - and i didn't see much improvement (not sure it will improve - but was looking for it to stop being so red and itchy). But as you know, Amlactin stinks. I started using Renew lotion from Melaleuca - and i really like it. I've been using it for about 3 weeks now - and it's still there - but not as noticable...but I use it religiously morning and night. I also use Selsum Blue too a couple days a week, but you don't want to use that on his face.



answers from Cumberland on

Your water is probably so hard- that it is not allowing the face to be properly cleansed and the products to do what they are supposed to do. Try using AquaFina to wash the baby's face-it has no minerals like tap (including well) water does. As for chlorinated water-don't get me started!

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